Rhodococcus spp

From Dog
Light microscopic view of Rhodococcus spp[1]

Rhodococcus spp are a Gram-positive, aerobic zoonotic bacteria closely related to Mycobacterium spp and Corynebacterium spp.

They are normally present in soil, but can occasionally be found in canine skin and respiratory tracts[2]. Humans infections occur from transmission of the bacteria by licking of open wounds or bites[3].

Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:

  • Rhodococcus equi[4]

Although normally a saprophyte, systemic disease conditions can occur with dogs, such as pyothorax, cellulitis, osteomyelitis and pyogranulomatous hepatitis[5].

Prolonged treatment may be required with clarithromycin, cephalexin[6], moxifloxacin, ciprofloxacin or pradofloxacin.


  1. BioMedCentral
  2. Takai S et al (2001) Prevalence of virulent Rhodococcus equi in isolates from soil collected from two horse farms in South Africa and restriction fragment length polymorphisms of virulence plasmids in the isolates from infected foals, a dog and a monkey. Onderstepoort J Vet Res 68(2):105-110
  3. Linares MJ et al (1997) Chronic pneumonia caused by Rhodococcus equi in a patient without impaired immunity. Eur Respir J 10(1):248-250
  4. Takai S et al (2003) Virulence of Rhodococcus equi isolated from cats and dogs. J Clin Microbiol 41(9):4468-4470
  5. Cantor GH et al (1998) VapA-negative Rhodococcus equi in a dog with necrotizing pyogranulomatous hepatitis, osteomyelitis, and myositis. J Vet Diagn Invest 10(3):297-300
  6. Lavy E et al (1995) Clinical pharmacologic aspects of cefixime in dogs. Am J Vet Res 56(5):633-638